Every conference loses a fair share of talented players each year.
The Fox River Classic Conference certainly has a bumper crop of boys basketball standouts to replace.
Not only does the FRCC not have a single returning first-team all-conference player, but four players from the Class of 2013 are currently on NCAA Division I rosters and three others are with DII teams.
“It’s going to be an interesting year in our league,” De Pere coach Brian Winchester said. “The teams that have been at the top for the last number of years certainly have graduated a lot of guys, some really good players. Whenever you have that amount of talent leave a league it’s going to end up creating new opportunities for different guys and different teams.”
In addition to new players having to step up on the court, the FRCC has four new coaches.
But something that has remained the same with the 12-team league is De Pere as a conference favorite.
The Redbirds have won at least a share of four straight FRCC titles by winning 61 of 64 conference games.
De Pere’s only conference blemish over the past two years came last season at Pulaski, which won the WIAA Division 2 state championship, the first state title won by a FRCC team since the conference was formed in 2007-08.
After being on the doorstep of one in 2011 when it finished as the D1 state runner-up, De Pere has had its last two seasons end in the sectional finals with losses to the eventual D1 champion, Germantown.
While they have to replace the likes of Adam Beyer (Augustana College) and Spencer Mocarski (Drake) from those teams, the Redbirds have seven returning letter winners, including leading scorer Brevin Pritzl.
The 6-foot-3 junior guard averaged 17.2 points per game and shot 42.7 percent (38-for-89) from 3-point range in FRCC play to earn second-team all-conference honors.
“Obviously, you’re going to be playing teams like De Pere that have guys who have been through all the battles,” Bay Port coach Nate Rykal said. “We have only one or two that have been through the battles consistently. We need people to step up and into roles they’ve never been in before.”
Despite graduating four starters, the Pirates are considered to be one of the top contenders to dethrone the Redbirds. Bay Port is the only team besides De Pere to win a FRCC title, but finished outside of the top three in the standings for the first time last season.
Sheboygan North, Pulaski, Ashwaubenon and Green Bay Preble are also programs expected to be in the mix.
Preble and Ashwaubenon are two of the teams with new coaches.
The Hornets finished 10th in the conference last year and have had two winning seasons the last 10 years, but have high hopes for first-year coach Jim Wall.
In addition to being a Preble alum that played with Tony Bennett in the 1980s, Wall was an assistant for his father, Keith, at the school for eight seasons.
Wall also spent time as an assistant at Pulaski under hall of fame coach Fred Kestly.
Meanwhile, Ashwaubenon has brought in John Miron, who was the head coach at Kimberly for 17 years, winning D2 state titles in 1994 and 1995.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere where it was going to be a complete rebuild,” said Miron, who most recently was an assistant at Little Chute for five years. “I’m just not at that age where I can do that anymore. I’ve always felt Ashwaubenon has had a quality program and there’s a toughness in the kids there.”
That would include junior forward Kyle Monroe, who was the Jaguars’ leading scorer (16.8 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (7.6 rpg) last season when he earned second-team all-conference honors.
“He’s a very smooth player,” Miron said. “He’s just got a way about him, some very natural things that he does that will make him one of the top players in the conference.”
FRCC at a glance
FRCC at a glance
Coach: John Miron, first year.
2012-13 record: (18-6, 12-4)
Top returners: Kyle Monroe (jr., F, 6-4), Jake Imig (sr., G, 6-2), Bryce VanLaanen (sr., G, 6-1), Jackson Messenger (sr., G, 6-0), Zak Imig (so., F, 6-1), Sam Wisneski (jr., G, 6-1).
Notable: The Jaguars have to replace Bennett Koch, who was a first team all-conference pick and is now playing at Northern Iowa University. Ashwaubenon has a lot of experienced guards, which bodes well for Miron’s man-to-man defense.
Coach: Nate Rykal, 9th year.
20012-13 record: (14-10, 11-5)
Top returners: Tyler Sagal (sr., G, 6-4), Zac Jahnke (sr., F, 6-5), Jacob Rathke (sr., G, 6-0), Zach Lorbeck (jr., G/F, 6-3), Evan Melchior (sr., G, 5-10), Tucker Noe (jr., F, 6-3).
Notable: The Pirates have to replace four starters including, Steven Minzlaff, a first team all-conference performer. Sagal is the lone returning starter, while Melchior will be stepping into the point guard position.
Coach: Brian Winchester, 7th year.
20012-13 record: (22-4, 15-1)
Top returners: Brevin Pritzl (jr., G, 6-3), Cooper Mocarski (sr., F, 6-5), Mitch Winter (sr., G, 6-6), Jason Blom (sr., F, 6-4), Tyus Kowalczyk (sr., G, 5-10), Jake Neuville (sr., F, 6-5), Grant Runnoe (sr., G, 5-11).
Notable: Winter shot 41.1 percent from 3-point range and was the team’s third-leading scorer (7.8 ppg) last season. Neuville will miss the early portion of the season with a knee injury.
Coach: Dave Shaw, 5th year.
2012-13 record: (24-4, 13-3)
Top returners: Luke Van Lanen (sr., G, 6-0), Chaz Kestly (sr., G, 6-0), Taylor Splan (sr., G, 5-10), Zach Doersch (sr., G/F, 6-3).
Notable: The Red Raiders will have to fill the shoes of Cody Wichmann, who was a first team all-conference pick and now a freshman at UW-Milwaukee. Van Lanen was the team’s second-leading scorer (13.4 ppg) and a second team all-conference player.
Green Bay East
Coach: Rick Rosinski, 12th year.
2012-13 record: (2-21, 1-15)
Top returners: Deonte Carlton (so., F, 6-1), Demarco Williams (sr., G, 5-10), Isaiah Turner (sr., G 6-0).
Notable: The Red Devils have three returning varsity letter winners, including Carlton and Williams with starting experience. East has to replace Antonio Ford, who earned second team all-conference honors after being the third-leading scorer (17.8 ppg) in the FRCC.
Green Bay Notre Dame
Coach: Tom Van Deurzen, 2nd year.
2012-13 record: (14-10, 7-9)
Top returners: K.C. Borseth (sr., G/F, 6-3), Mitch Vanden Meerendonk (sr., F, 6-3), Gus Dennis (jr., G, 6-1), Caleb Smyth (sr, G, 6-0), Isaac Seering (sr., G, 6-0), Sam Halama (sr., F, 6-3).
Notable: Ben Bobinski broke the school’s all-time scoring record last season and is now a freshman at St. Norbert College. Borseth will be one of the players that should see an expanded role with graduation of Bobinski.
Green Bay Preble
Coach: Jim Wall, first year.
2012-13 record: (6-18, 3-13)
Top returners: Conner Kraft (sr., G, 5-10), Connor Lemmens (so., G, 6-3), Cody McIntyre (sr., F, 6-3), Joel Delwiche (sr., F, 6-2), Nate Riemer (sr., G/F, 6-2).
Notable: Kraft was the team’s leading scorer last season (11.1 ppg). The Hornets had a strong showing in their opener last week, falling 77-73 to third-ranked Milwaukee Hamilton and UCLA recruit Kevin Looney.
Green Bay Southwest
Coach: John Polkowski, first year.
2012-13 record: (14-10, 9-7)
Top returners: Joel Cline (sr., F, 6-4), Chase Cooley (sr., G, 6-1), Deion Denny (sr., G, 5-10), John Laszewski (sr., F, 6-6), Gabe Rasmussen (sr., G, 5-10), Sam Humphrey (jr., G, 6-0).
Notable: Polkowski steps in for Chris Karcz, who was the coach for three years. The Trojans have to replace Aaron Moesch, a first team all-conference player and preferred walk-on at Wisconsin.
Green Bay West
Coach: Steven Sickler, second year.
2012-13 record: (4-19, 1-15)
Top returners: Shawntae Bryant (sr., G, 6-3), Cody Weber (sr., F, 6-7), Logan Cropsey (jr., F, 6-6), Adam Smith (sr., F, 6-2), Deangelo King (sr., F, 5-11).
Notable: After being the fourth different head coach West has had in as many years, Sickler’s return provides some continuity for a squad that returns five varsity letter winners, including three starters that average 6-foot-5. Bryant is the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder.
Coach: Brian Gallagher, 4th year.
2012-13 record: (9-14, 7-9)
Top returners: David Wronkowski (sr., G, 6-0), Trevor Terp (sr., G, 6-1), Preston Ullmann (sr., G, 6-0), Ben Kohls (sr., F, 6-4).
Notable: The Ships have to replace a majority of their lineup from last season, including leading scorers Austin Mecca (14.3 ppg) and Kyle Hoffman (12.1). Mecca was a second-team all-conference pick, while Hoffman earned honorable mention.
Coach: Tom Desotell, 37th year.
2012-13 record: (20-5, 12-4)
Top returners: Davis Larson (so., F, 6-4), Noah Stengel (sr., F, 6-1), Jared Parise (jr., G 5-10), Michal Baca (sr., F, 6-3).
Notable: The Vikings have to replace Ethan Guske, who averaged 20.9 ppg and was the FRCC player of the year. Larson was the team’s second leading scorer (13.4 ppg) as a freshman and was the FRCC’s second-leading rebounder (9.6).
Coach: Mike Rank, first year.
2012-13 record: (5-18, 5-11)
Top returners: Jared Reklaitis (jr., F, 6-4), T.J. Pitsch (jr., G, 5-11), Conner Harrison, (jr., G, 6-2), Tyler Zietz (sr., G, 5-9).
Notable: Athletic director Mike Ranks takes over for Tim Schultz, who stepped down following six seasons. Rank is a South alum and was the head coach at Random Lake from 2005-08.